BACKGROUND: Rapid risk stratification is a core task in emergency medicine. Identifying patients at high and low risk shortly after admission could help clinical decision-making regarding treatment, level of observation, allocation of resources and post discharge follow-up. The purpose of the present study was to determine short-, mid- and long-term mortality by plasma measurement of copeptin in unselected admitted patients. METHOD: Consecutive patients >40-years-old admitted to an inner-city hospital were included. Within the first 24 hours after admission, a structured medical interview was conducted and self-reported medical history was recorded. All patients underwent a clinical examination, an echocardiographic evaluation and collection of blood for later measurement of risk markers. RESULTS: Plasma for copeptin measurement was available from 1,320 patients (average age 70.5 years, 59.4% women). Median follow-up time was 11.5 years (range 11.0 to 12.0 years). Copeptin was elevated (that is, above the 97.5 percentile in healthy individuals).Mortality within the first week was 2.7% (17/627) for patients with elevated copeptin (above the 97.5 percentile, that is, >11.3 pmol/L) compared to 0.1% (1/693) for patients with normal copeptin concentrations (that is, ≤11.3 pmol/L) (P <0.01). Three-month mortality was 14.5% (91/627) for patients with elevated copeptin compared to 3.2% (22/693) for patients with normal copeptin. Similar figures for one-year mortality and for the entire observation period were 27.6% (173/627) versus 8.7% (60/693) and 82.9% (520/527) versus 57.5% (398/693) (P <0.01 for both), respectively.Using multivariable Cox regression analyses shows that elevated copeptin was significantly and independently related to short-, mid- and long-term mortality. Adjusted hazard ratios were 2.4 for three-month mortality, 1.9 for one-year mortality and 1.4 for mortality in the entire observation period. CONCLUSIONS: In patients admitted to an inner-city hospital, copeptin was strongly associated with short-, mid- and long-term mortality. The results suggest that rapid copeptin measurement could be a useful tool for both disposition in an emergency department and for mid- and long-term risk assessment.